Politicians are people who resolve challenges and create compromises where none seem possible. They can make even those that have sacrificed the most, feel good. A statesman is a person who does all of this but in extreme situations. The most recent example was Tony Blair and the Northern Irish Good Friday Agreement,* which built on years of negotiations by both the Thatcher and Major governments. Damian White is moving towards being a politician.
The long standing dispute over the designation of New Zealand Way and Gooshays Green as housing opportunities has been withdrawn. This is notwithstanding the fact that it would be entirely within the legal rights of the council to build on both amenity areas. Campaigns led by local residents and councillors crystallised the principal areas of debate.
Although passions were raised, the campaign was remarkably civilised. Damian has had to consider a world where compromise is necessary. He’s become a politician because he’s mediated conflict. He’s as much a victor as the communities which have benefited. The issues were debated successfully and Havering is the better for it.
* 10th April 1998